The Doll People Set Sail, by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin, was published in 2014 by Hyperion. It is the sequel to The Runaway Dolls.
Annabelle Doll, Tiffany Funcraft, and their families are whisked out to sea when the Palmers accidentally place them in a box destined for charity donation. And it turns out they’re not alone—there are plenty of other doll people on the ship, too. After traveling thousands of miles, will they be able to find their way home?
Oddly enough—perhaps because he wasn’t available—Brian Selznick did not return to illustrate The Doll People Set Sail. The illustrations were instead done by Brett Helquist, who is a fantastic illustrator but definitely does not have the same style as Selznick. And, unfortunately, it really threw off the book for me. It just didn’t feel like a Doll People book without Selznick’s drawings. It felt less “these are actual dolls” and more “these are just drawings of dolls,” if that makes sense.
Despite the drawings, I did really enjoy this book. Annabelle gets some courage, Tiffany gains some wisdom, new friends are made, and somehow the dolls manage to navigate a gigantic ship without anyone breaking into pieces or getting caught (although I found it just a teensy bit unrealistic that they were able to traverse such a large quantity of the ship in just a few hours). I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as The Runaway Dolls (because The Runaway Dolls gave me a lot of Toy Story 2 vibes, and Toy Story 2 is my favorite Toy Story movie), but still, it was quite good.
I doubt there will be a fifth Doll People book, if only because I can’t see what would come next. Martin and Godwin have gone bigger and bigger with each book. What could top being shipped away? It’s been an enjoyable series, perfect for young children who love Toy Story or who just love dolls. And as contrived as they can be towards the end, they are at least a fun contrived. The Doll People Set Sail is a good ending book, with Annabelle becoming less afraid and all the dolls happy and enjoying their life.
Recommended Age Range: 10+
Genre: Realistic, Children’s
“The ATC!” [Annabelle] wailed, her worries flooding back in an instant. “We really are going to the ATC! We could wind up anywhere. Mrs. Palmer said the ATC donations are sent to children all around the world.”
“But it sounds like we’re going to a warehouse first,” said Tiffany. “When they unload our box there, they’ll see that we don’t have an ATC label. I’m sure they’ll return us then.”